BMW has been unafraid to tailor its M3 to the times. Over the past 29 years, the M3’s cylinder counts and transmission choices and even body styles have changed. These moves have had corresponding effects on comfort, luxury, and reliability, yet the M3 has always maintained its status as a no-compromise machine. Each of its five generations has offered a slightly different balance between street and track performance, with the underlying idea that this car could excel spectacularly at both disciplines. But after spending 17 months with the latest M3, we’ve come away thinking that Munich’s scales need recalibrating.
The M3 is still a wonderful performer; it puts up numbers as easily as LeBron James playing pickup at the Cleveland YMCA. At the end of our test, the M3 ran 12.4 seconds in the quarter-mile at 116 mph, pulled 1.01 g’s on our skidpad, and stopped from 70 mph in 155 feet, excellent figures that are essentially unchanged from the car as new.
Its 425-hp twin-turbocharged inline-six accelerates with a ferocity to match anything on the street. Ditto the ease with which the driver can summon oversteer with a mash of the throttle. Testing director Don Sherman said it succinctly: “The M3 is lovely to drive flat-out.” If we had put 40,000 miles on the car strictly with lapping sessions or on manicured canyon roads, we might have come away with a different opinion. Alas, subjected to normal road use, the M3 was often frustrating.
It started with the $81,425 sticker price. Maybe if this had been a psychologically more appealing $79,995, the logbook commenters wouldn’t have spent so much time grumbling about the expense, which was smeared over every other complaint like so much proverbial icing. (“For $80K?! No.”) Our well-established disappointment with BMW’s latest F30 3-series and vivid memories of the outstanding previous-generation M3, with its high-revving V-8, didn’t help. Surely, we thought, throwing this much money at the 3-series would make it wonderful. Not so. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by Michael Simari and Marc Urbano